Why Customer Experience Is a Journey, Not a Destination

Magical transformation as a wooden knight chess piece casting a shadow of a wild horse on two legs on the wall. - Digital Transformation concept


Company culture is the personality of your company and it plays a large part in your employees’ overall satisfaction. If you want to create a culture where digital transformation thrives, where customer experience is paramount, what should you do? Obviously, you want to be empathetic and care about the experience your customer — whether they are internal or external — has with your organization. And that starts with understanding their journey.

Whether we are in sales or not, we all have customers. Your customers may be internal — they may be your colleagues in other departments or your employees, if you’re in HR or talent management. Perhaps your customers are external — your citizens or your council (if you’re in the public sector), or your partners, your stakeholders, your shareholders or your users (if you are in the private sector). Regardless whether your customers are internal or external, the experience for each of them is equally important.

Dedicating yourself to improving customer experience means considering all the experiences your internal and external customers have with you, from the mundane to the sublime.

Improving the Journey of Customer Experience

You can think of the customer experience as a journey, not a destination. You can’t just decide to improve customer experience. Instead, you have to consider all the touchpoints, all the ways that customers interact with you. This requires you to know your customer, to create a persona for them, and to really empathize with what they are thinking and feeling.

Consider your employees. Say as an organization, one of your values is to be a people-first culture. Great! Everyone wants to work for an organization that values the happiness and well-being of its people. But your organization can’t just express that value through a slogan or free t-shirts or an email HR sends out once a quarter, declaring that people are the most important part of your company. You have to do that by putting your people first in the experiences they have and the processes you develop.

An important part of investing in your people, of putting them first, is investing in their professional development. But what if the process for moving forward with professional development activities is so difficult that employees give up? It’s full of multiple approvals and they can’t figure out how to pay for it and it’s just, well, annoying! That’s not putting people first.

Let’s break down that down in more detail:

  • What does the customer need to do? In this scenario, our customer is Jennifer, a midlevel manager on our Customer Success team who has been with our company for three years. We think she has leadership potential, so we want to invest in her development and retain her. Jennifer needs to get professional development approved and purchased. We then need to validate that the training was taken and evaluate the results.
  • What are they thinking or feeling? At first, Jennifer is excited. She’s optimistic that the company is investing in her professional growth and she feels valued as an important part of the team. She’s a little nervous about learning something new. But then, Jennifer starts on the approval and purchasing process. She has to navigate through your intranet to figure out what to do, and she’s starting to feel a little annoyed. Because Jennifer has so much other work to do — especially with clients calling her with concerns and questions about their newels as they start to return back to the office — she starts wondering if this professional development is worth doing.
  • What actions do they need to take? Jennifer needs to find the preapproval form, get it approved by her manager, make sure the training is in the departmental budget, then fill out a PO for payment. But she realizes the vendor isn’t in the accounting system so she has to fill out a separate form for approval to have the vendor added, which adds additional time and steps to the process. Once the PO is approved, she then has to coordinate with Finance to have the training paid for, then take the training, fill out a “goods and services received” form for Finance and fill out a training evaluation form for HR. It’s a lot of separate forms, a lot of separate approvals, and, honestly, a lot of Jennifer’s time that she could be spending working with your clients.
  • What is the customer’s current touchpoint with you? Jennifer has to figure out the process by asking various staff members in HR and Finance, asking her boss, finding the forms on your intranet, then filling out and submitting them. All the forms are located in different parts of the intranet because they are all different departmental forms.
  • What is the customer’s desired touchpoint with you? Now, this is the fun part of building a customer journey — we get to imagine what Jennifer’s life could be like. Perhaps Jennifer logs into the HR system where she already requests her vacation and sick time. It’s a system she’s familiar with, and one she can access from her phone. There’s a button labeled “Request Training,” and she clicks it, fills out a single, simple form, and she’s done. The request is automatically routed to her boss for approval, and, once it’s approved, to staff in Finance to add the vendor, issue the PO and coordinate the payment. When Jennifer completes the training, she has an email in her inbox from HR with a link to click to complete her training assessment. When she submits the form, the system automatically notifies Finance to mark the goods and services received form as complete. Everything from the previous process is completed, but it only requires Jennifer to fill out two forms — the initial request and the training assessment, both of which are completed online, and both of which are easy to find.
  • What is the difference? Instead of Jennifer doing the legwork, automation is! This is the beauty of applying a digital transformation mindset to your customer journey. So many of our current processes are cobbled together over time. Perhaps in this case, all of these forms existed in different departments, and when the training initiative was launched, all the forms were strung together, rather than thinking about the experience of the person who had to fill them out. When you take a customer-focused approach, you think about how their experience would be better — which ultimately makes the experience better for everyone, including staff in HR and Finance who don’t have to constantly answer questions about the process.
  • How will this improve their experience? Instead of Jennifer feeling frustrated and annoyed and feeling like she’s being put last in this experience, the experience is built for her. Her needs are centered. For the organization, it’s a chance to live its mission of being people-first, which ultimately improves recruitment and retention.

Final Thoughts

This journey would be different for a new employee and a senior-level employee, but that’s what’s exciting about building customer journeys — it allows you to understand the needs of all your customers, so when you’re working on a digital transformation initiative, you don’t leave anyone behind.

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